Today Hestan Smart Cooking and ChefSteps debuted a deep link integration between their two cooking apps. What this means is the user can initiate a cook within the Hestan app, seamlessly transfer to the ChefSteps Joule to sous vide a protein like steak, and then finish the cook with the Hestan Cue smart cooking system.

This from Hestan’s app page:

“We’ve come together with the team at ChefSteps to bring you a new “Sous Vide” mode for Mix & Match with sear-only recipes. Each recipe links directly to the corresponding protein in the ChefSteps’ Joule app for seamless sous vide cooking. Our team of culinary scientists developed these recipes to give you the best sear and the crispiest skin to pair with all of your favorite Cue sauces (plus a few new ones from our friends at ChefSteps)!”

While this may seem like a relatively small piece of news, I think it’s an interesting glimpse at what a more fully evolved connected kitchen could look like.

Before I get to why I think that is so, let’s step back and look at the problems the smart home industry has had with broken and incompatible experiences in multibrand, multi-device smart homes.

The Smart Home Is Often Not So Smart

One of the biggest problems with the smart home is consumer confusion and frustration over the incompatibility of different products and consumer experiences. More devices often mean more apps and more connections to manage, the result of which for the consumer can be a growing number of disjointed experiences that often require more work than less technology-centric approaches.

When I surveyed smart home industry executives at the end of last year, they identified consumer confusion over technologies as the biggest hurdle preventing greater adoption in their industry.

Efforts to create widely adopted frameworks like HomeKit have helped, but these are still vendor-driven offerings that don’t eliminate a consumer’s exposure to incompatible apps and broken user experiences. Universal front-end interfaces like Alexa offer great promise and will no doubt play a big part in more seamless and unified experiences across a multi-vendor smart home environment, but today’s voice integrations are often shallow and usually don’t enable inter-product integration experiences.

Which brings us to the kitchen. While the connected kitchen is embryonic compared to the broader smart home, 2017 has seen strong movement among appliance makers, housewares companies and technology vendors who see an opportunity to make their products more connected. Of course, the danger here is the same as with the smart home, where consumers have a bunch of non-interoperable devices and apps and give up because trying to make it all work is just too much work.

In my kitchen, I have a variety of connected food appliances, none of which work together. This includes three sous vide appliances, a connected grill, a beer brewer, and coffee maker. All connected, but none to each other. And while I may not have much need for my coffee maker and my sous vide machine to communicate now (or ever?),  I can see an obvious reason for my sous vide app and my grill app to work together. Taking it a step further, it makes sense for my shopping app, food storage app (smart fridge), oven, countertop cooking apps (sous vide, etc.) to work together to hand off between stages.

But it goes beyond connecting the various cooking steps.  Take health and nutrition, where there are companies like Bosch who are working on food scanners to let us know instantly the nutritional makeup of food in our kitchen There would be tremendous value in allowing that info to instantly be shared with any of my cooking devices, my fitness wearable, and my fitness apps.  I also believe Apple’s HealthKit will someday incorporate info in realtime about the caloric and nutrient makeup of your food intake; that info is not nearly as valuable if it is not useable with a connected kitchen.

So you can see where I’m going. The ability to connect devices, even at the app level, will ultimately reduce consumer frustration and likely result in faster adoption of these products. Longer term, there is great promise in better integration of appliances, and only through greater integration will we realize the promise of a connected kitchen.

Oh yeah, About That News

Still interested in the specifics of the announcement? I caught up with Hestan’s product software lead Jordan Meyer, who told me the three components of the latest version of their app:

The availability of new sous vide recipes. These recipes will walk you visually through cooking sous vide and will work with any sous vide circulator.

The ChefSteps integration. This is where the sous video recipes go next-level. Jordan said that Hestan recognized their smart pan and induction heating system would not cook a 2″ steak as well as a sous vide circulator, so they decided to work with the ChefSteps (he tells me the Hestan folks are fans of the Joule). Where the Hestan does excel, such as sauces and finishing a steak, the user can then use the Cue.

Lastly, Hestan also took some of ChefSteps recipes and added their step-by-step cooking guidance within the app.

Bottom line, this type of device and app integration makes these appliances more usable. If you are a cooking enthusiast who embraces modern tools as a way to put food on the table, eventually you’ll want to ensure your tools work together without suffering from app fatigue or a lack of interoperability.

Today Hestan and ChefSteps showed us what such a connected kitchen might look like.

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